Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Halloween Costume Changes Tone of Classroom?

Ms. Gross is Missing!!!!

Dear Readers,

I have never felt the urge to dress-up on Halloween, however have always loved the "cuteness" of the holiday. For some odd reason, I was extremely motivated to come dressed as a book character this year. 

Some of my students knew I was thinking about it, however I kept mentioning coming as Wendy from Peter Pan. Later that evening I was browsing through my picture books and found Miss Nelson is Missing and decided I would come as Ms. Gross' alter ego, the mean Miss Viola Swamp.

Of course I gave 100% to the role! My day started in the upstairs hallway waiting for my Homebase students. As I stood there, students were looking at me in absolute amazement. Many of them complimented me on my costume. Of course, since I was the one wearing the make-up, I forgot how much it transformed me into someone else. Throughout the day, it was a little comical watching people talk to me! Most of them smiled, said how "cute" or "pretty" a "witch" I was, but some seemed almost frazzled! 

Something a 7th grade Language & Literature student said to me during lunch, prompted a reflection question.

It is customary for me to leave Morning Messages. I always make a point of addressing the class as "learners", "authors", whatever we happen to be doing. Additionally, my closing is always Sincerely, Ms. Gross. 

This is the message that was left on Monday.

Please note the tone of the message. The following day, my student commented that he did not like me dressed up because it was SO different! He hated the black lipstick. That commented prompted this reflection question:

How did Viola Swamp change the learning environment?

Here are some of the responses (paraphrased):

  • It was fun.
  • It was surprising at first, but then it was funny.
  • It helped us get in the holiday spirit.
  • Your message was not warm like it usually is.
  • We were not allowed to talk, laugh, giggle, get tissues, etc. It was very strict.
  • You looked so different, the black lipstick was scary.
  • I was afraid what would happen if I did not get my work down!
  • It wasn't our sweet lovable Ms. Gross.

Despite the fact that I was the same exact person, I had unintentionally set a completely different tone to our learning environment than what the students were used to. 

I pride myself on creating a safe, caring, loving learning environment. This confirmed my belief that it truly does make a different and students (even middle schoolers) really do notice and appreciate it.